A city can be considered smart if it satisfies various criteria of a smart city such as regional competitiveness, transport and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) economics, quality of life, the availability of natural resources and citizen participation in city governance. A smart city is defined by innovation and its ability to solve problems while using ICTs to improve the capacity
Popularly known as Vizag, the port city of Visakhapatnam is fondly called ‘Jewel of the East Coast’. This city in Andhra Pradesh is famous as a destination for both business and leisure. Included as a part of the central government’s Smart City Mission, this town is a hub of steel plants and its manufacturing, while at the same time, serving as a quaint beach destination for sea-breeze-seeking tourists. During the holiday season from December to February, there’s a distinctly kitschy vibe to this city, with camel rides happening along the coastline. The pedestrian promenade along the Ramakrishna Beach is pleasant for a stroll, and the Rushikonda Beach nearby is Andhra’s best.
Surrounded by several Hindu temples and ancient Buddhist sites, Visakhapatnam also features at the top of the list for pilgrims and devotees. Every year in January, the port city hosts Visakha Utsav, a food festival that seeks to bring out the exquisite cuisine of Andhra Pradesh and the many mouthwatering delicacies that the place has to offer. Approximately 115 kms north of Visakhapatnam are lush forests of Eastern Ghats towards the Araku Valley. Home to the indigenous tribal communities, the place is a secret haven for tourists and popular for its exquisite organic coffee plantations and lovely green countryside. Enroute, you can visit the impressive Borra Caves.
Madurai is a quaint little temple town of Tamil Nadu. One of the ancient cities of India, Madurai was once a thriving metropolis that traded with the Romans and Greeks. In medieval times, the city extended its trade routes to the southeast Asia. The Meenakshi Amman Temple, having a dazzling maze-like structure, is considered one of the greatest temples in India and is a major attraction among tourists and pilgrims visiting from within the country and abroad.
Much like Visakhapatnam, Madurai too grapples with two worlds – an ancient part that is dominated by medieval temples and the modern part with its expanding IT-driven economy. The local cuisine has a strong influence of the Chettinad region which is a two-hour drive away from the city. Known for its fiery flavours, the cuisine is every spicy food lovers’ dream and is served everywhere in Madurai in its authentic form.
Often referred to as the ‘Manchester of the South’ for its textile industries, this big business and junction city is the second largest in Tamil Nadu after Chennai. Its rich history and surrounding hill stations make this city a travellers’ pitstop. A lot of tourists choose to fly to this city to go ahead to hill stations in Tamil Nadu, such as Ooty. It is also the perfect place to drop by if one is visiting the Anamalai Tiger Reserve.
Once called Kongunadu, the locals nowadays call the city Kovai in their common tongue (Tamil). The city, in medieval times, was ruled by chieftains. Then it was ruled by Karikala Cholan and after him, it was ruled by the kings of Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Pandyas, Hoyasalas and Vijayanagar Empire. However, the industrial boost happened in the Victorian Era under the British.
Known for its rolling hills, endless coconut trees, sprawling beaches and enchanting history, the coastal city of Mangaluru in Karnataka is a dream destination for beach lovers and surfers. One of the main gateways to the Konkan coast and inland Kodagu region, the city has an appealing off-the-beaten-path feel, and the spicy seafood dishes are sensational. Mangaluru sits at the estuaries of the picturesque Netravathi and Gurupur rivers on the Arabian Sea and has been a major port on international trade routes since the sixth century AD. There are also several temples in the city that offer a glimpse into the old-world Mangaluru. Located in the heart of the city is the famous Mangaladevi Temple that dates back to the ninth century, the days of the Ahepa Dynasty.
Situated on the banks of the Godavari river, this quaint city is full of legends that date back to many millenniums. One such legend is that Lord Rama’s brother, Lakshmana, hacked off the nasika (nose) of Ravana’s sister at Nashik. So, if history and mythology hold your interest, this large provincial city’s old quarter has some intriguing wooden architecture and interesting temples that reference the Hindu epic. However, if you aren’t a history enthusiast, don’t despair, because Nashik has a lot more exotic things to offer than just history. Wine tourism is on the rise in India, and Nashik is at the centre of it all. India’s best wines are produced locally, and touring the gorgeous vineyards in the countryside surrounding the city is an unparalleled experience.
A unique feature about this city is that it plays host to the grand Kumbh Mela (the largest religious gathering in the world), once every 12 years. The last one was held in 2015, and the next one is to be held in 2027.